Signing a new left back is now one of Derek McInnes’ top priorities for the January transfer window after the Dons were knocked back in their bid to keep Max Lowe until the end of the season.
The 21-year-old has impressed since joining on loan from Derby at the start of the season but Rams manager Frank Lampard has refused to sanction an extension.
Scott Malone is Derby’s only fit left back with Craig Forsyth and Marcus Olsson both sidelined with long-term knee injuries.
McInnes said: “Max is going back unfortunately. It’s a blow, but to be fair, it’s something I expected over the last few weeks. We spoke to Derby on Wednesday and I think there’s a bit of regret from their point of view because I think Frank can see the benefit of him staying out.
“But they’ve got a couple injuries so it was something we were expecting and we just need to deal with it because the boy has done well for us.
“He’s been different class and is getting better and better. We’d love him to be with us for the second half of the season but he’s going to try to get into the Derby team and I think he’ll have the opportunity to do that. “We’ve got other options in the club who can play left back but what I think we’ve seen from Max is the benefit of having that raiding left-back in certain games.
“The best part of his defending is his attacking and playing the game in opposition half and having that speed and drive. He’s added to the more attacking threat we’ve shown recently by his raiding runs down the left. If we think we can get something similar to a Max then we’ll try and get that but we have been looking for the last six or eight weeks.”
Dons midfielder Greg Tansey could also be leaving Pittodrie.
The former Caley Thistle player has been linked with a move to Hamilton Accies.
When asked about the possibility of Tansey joining Accies, McInnes said: “There is nothing concrete on it.
“I am not surprised there are one or two clubs who are looking at our players who aren’t playing regularly.
“I haven’t spoken to Greg about that but I wouldn’t be surprised by that if clubs such as Hamilton are looking at some of our players.
“I’m sure that will materialise if there is anything in it over the next while.”
Gary Mackay-Steven (concussion) and Mikey Devlin (foot) will both miss today’s visit of Hearts to Pittodrie.
McInnes is wary of a Jambos side that will be determined to bounce back after losing 5-0 at Livingston last Friday.
He said: “It was an unusual performance because they’ve set such high standards this season.
“They’ll be hurting and will be looking for a reaction because their supporters will demand it.”